What’s the Comelec doing about pollsters?
SHOOTING STRAIGHT - Valeriano Avila (The Freeman) - April 22, 2019 - 12:00am

Happy Easter Everyone! For our special presentation on our talkshow Straight from the Sky, we bring you an issue that is important to all Cebuanos. our water! Yes, if there is any problem that Cebu has always experienced, it is our serious lack of water. Our political leaders always brag about how long that they have been in power, but except for appointing the people to run the Metro Cebu Metropolitan Cebu Water District (MCWD), they really haven’t done anything good to improve our water supply. More so that Cebu City has already grown with so many tall buildings. Unfortunately, our voters would rather solve our huge traffic problems than our water needs!

So for our talkshow tonight, I was truly blessed to have Engr. Antonio Camelo Tompar, founder and chairman of Mactan Rock Industries, Inc. (MRII). This 35-year old company is Cebu’s leader in Reverse Osmosis Desali-nation plants. Because of his achievement, Tony was awarded as most out-standing mechanical engineer of the year in the field of entrepreneurship in 1999 for being the first to build a wastewater desalination plant in the Philippines by the Philippine Society of Mechanical Engineers (PSME). Tony told me that since he now manufactures many local parts for desalination plants, this system is now far cheaper than it was years go.

I was recently awestruck by the news that Mactan Rock was giving away its excess water to the poor at this time when Cebu is having a serious water shortage. This is the first time I had Tony Tompar in my show and he really shared with me what Cebu needed to have enough water supply even at the height of a blazing summer. So Engr. Tony Tompar talked about Cebu’s water needs on SkyCable’s channel 53 at 8:00PM with replays on Wednesday and Saturday same time and channel. We also have replays on MyTV’s channel 30 at 9:00PM Monday and at 7:00AM and 9:00PM on Wednesday and Friday.

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Searching for a good article to write for my Easter Monday column, I chanced upon Yen Makabenta’s Manila Times column on March 21, 2019 entitled “Surveys are Surreal: Filipinos are citizens Not Customers” where he wrote., “After a long study, I have settled on a word to describe the satisfaction surveys of SWS (Social Weather Stations): “surreal.” This must be said, the SWS satisfaction surveys are truly a Filipino innovation in public opinion research.” With the midterm elections coming in three weeks, we must look at what our pollsters have been doing.

As Yen Makabenta’s pointed out: “Pew Research Center has done a full analysis on why the 2016 election polls missed their mark, which was pub-lished on Nov.9, 2016. It concluded the study with this note: “Pollsters are well aware that the profession faces serious challenges that this election has only served to highlight. But this is also a time of extensive experimentation and in-novation in the field.

The role of polling in a democracy goes far beyond simply predicting the horse race. At its best, polling provides an equal voice to everyone and helps to give expression to the public’s needs and wants in ways that elections may be too blunt to do. That is why restoring polling’s credibility is so important, and why we are committed to helping in the effort to do so.”

I really don’t know how many times have I questioned our survey pollsters, Pulse Asia or Social Weather Stations (SWS) and why the Commis-sion on Elections (Comelec) allow them to literally sllow these pollsters to col-late the people’s information on whom they would like to vote when the reali-ty is that they are not as accurate as they ought to be. Worse, people would perceive that to be included in the magic “12,” you need to pay these pollsters a certain amount. In short, the Comelec fails in presenting the Filipino voter a truly honest-to-goodnews voters record.

At this point, Yen Makabenta wrote a very important issue in the United States, entitled, “Gallup gives up the horse race”. What is truly startling, however, is the dramatic decision of Gallup to pull out of horserace election polling because of difficulties it has encountered in its surveys. Gallup is the biggest name in the business. Steven Shepard wrote for Politico a report on Gallup’s decision that explains in great part what is happening to US polling today. Shepard wrote: “Gallup has been the country’s gold standard for horse-race election polling ever since its legendary founder, George Gallup, predicted Franklin Roosevelt’s landslide reelection in 1936.” So will the Comelec truly stop our highly questionable pollsters???

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For email responses to this article, write to vsbobita@gmail.com. His columns can be accessed through www.philstar.com.

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